Cover Image: Island Reich

Island Reich

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Member Reviews

I quite enjoyed this book, being a crafted mixture of fact and fiction.
The author has gone to a lot of trouble to follow fact in the occupation of the Channel Islands.
The imagined conversations between famous people of the time are quite thought-provoking.....what if?
The story if fast moving and the characters are well drawn, there are some interesting observations of the time and lots of historical references.
Worth reading.
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Island Reich by Jack Grimwood, what a thriller! One of the best thrillers I’ve read this year, a WW2 action packed adventure, jam packed with intriguing historical events.
In short, Bill O’Hagen, an ex soldier of WW1, finds himself forced to serve his country again and is shipped over to Nazi occupied Alderney on a mission to crack a safe under the German eyes whilst pretending to be Sir William Renhou, a fascist living on the island.
There are a couple of storylines running throughout the book, the other main one is following the historical events which happened after the abdication of the Duke of Windsor and his American divorcee wife, Wallis Simpson…which all cleverly connect to Bill’s mission on Alderney.
There’s a lot going on in this book, as quoted, ‘so many wasps in one trap’…it’s a complicated plot masterfully executed, a real page turner. I would highly recommend this book. 
Big thanks to Jack Grimwood, Penguin Michael Joseph UK and NetGalley for this eARC which I chose to read in return for my honest review.
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July 1940. The Nazis launch their invasion of Britain - starting with the Channel Islands. And soldier turned safecracker Bill O'Hagan gets an offer: hang for his crimes, or serve his country. The mission - land on occupied Alderney, impersonate a local, steal the invasion plans, escape. It sounds so implausible he almost believes it. In Portugal, the former King, Edward, Duke of Windsor, receives an altogether different proposal from Germany: ease the invasion and he'll get his throne back. But Edward will not willingly betray his country. An embittered former king. 

An unreformed thief. And a secret upon which the fates of nations lie. A compulsive and superbly plotted World War II fact meets fiction historical thriller set against a richly atmospheric and deeply authentic backdrop. I couldn't get enough of award-winning writer Grimwood’s enthralling and excellently woven age-old tale of good versus evil, with heroes to cheer for, villains to actively loathe and a few characters in between who exhibit a morally grey set of behaviours and ideas. Highly recommended.
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Told from multiple points of view Island Reich blends fact and fiction into a very engaging and enjoyable read that is primarily based in Alderney during World War 2.

The author, Jack Grimwood, has created some very identifiable characters that allows the story to flow without any confusion to the reader.

Highly recommended
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An exciting and fast paced world war 2 thriller from Jack Grimwood that perfectly blends both fact and fiction with real and fictional characters.

The story is of Bill , an expert safe cracker who is forced into the war effort by British Intelligence to help gather information that could turn the Nazi charge on its head.

Sent to the recently occupied Aldernay Island in the channel, Bill is faced with adversity, From both friend and foe as his task becomes increasingly fraught and suspenseful.

Much of the book is set as letters and memos going between both British and nazi intelligence, I particularly enjoyed these small snippets throughout the book. The chapters are small and come fast and many have cliff hangers to ensure you turn the pages that made this is 544 page book feel light and enjoyable 

This is high class writing and this completely brilliant thriller is one of the best world war 2 set stories I’ve had the pleasure to read.
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Bill O’Hagan, burglar, safe cracker, and conman, is given the chance of avoiding the hangman if he agrees to carrying out a mission in the Channel Islands, in this interesting WWII thriller.   

It is 1940 and Europe is in chaos.   Among those on the move are the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  Having abdicated, the former king is regretful and bored, while Wallis Simpson is demanding and resentful.   The Germans are keen to recruit them, using flattery and other inducements, while the British are keeping a close eye on their Continental wanderings.   With Edward indiscreet, possibly to the point of treason, and Wallis Simpson known to have close German friends; rumoured to have been the mistress of von Ribbentrop, their concerns are well based.

Meanwhile, O’Hagan, who fought in the previous war, is not keen to risk his life again.  However, he has skills the country needs and so, like or not, he is given little choice but to visit the Channel Islands – which the Germans plan to use as a stepping-stone to invade England – and open a certain safe…  Once there, he joins up with Daisy, an American, plus a young Jewish girl, who is posing as her niece.  

This scenario makes for an exciting novel, which involves good characters, alongside a fast-moving plot.  You have the occupied Channel Islands, offering an interesting wartime location, as well as the problem of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and snippets of letters and messages flying about which gives the storyline depth.  Highly recommended, for anyone who likes an exciting thriller, which also includes interesting characters.   I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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Jack Grimwood expertly blends fact and fiction in this superb piece of WW2 historical espionage fiction, set in 1940 with a Britain faring badly against the German enemy. Bill O'Hagan is a disillusioned ex-soldier and safecracker for whom a last job goes wrong, facing the hangman's noose, he is offered a reprieve that forces him to work for the government. They want to utilise his specialist safecracking skills to access secret German plans, from a safe to be found in the Channel Islands, more specifically Alderney, currently being occupied by the Nazis with a view to being a stepping stone to invading Britain. Bill receives a fast track training course from SOE, and provided with the requisite information for him to be able to impersonate missing farmer from Africa and Nazi sympathiser, Sir William Renhou, currently in the process of divorcing his wife, Daisy.

After the abdication, former king. Edward, the Duke of Windsor and his American divorcee wife, Wallis Simpson are in Europe, having to move from France, Spain to finally end up in Portugal. The Duke is a bitter and resentful man, he and his wife are isolated, missing their previous life of position, privilege, safety, security and wealth. They are being shunned by the new King and the rest of the royal family, and a concerned British government is keeping a close eye on them, worried about their susceptibility at being used to serve a German agenda. The royal couple have had close links with senior members of the German High Command, particularly von Ribbentrop, and have expressed the view Britain had made a mistake in going to war with Germany, a war they are convinced the Germans will win. This storyline connects with Bill's mission, as numerous parties closely shadow the Duke amidst German political intrigue and machinations, intending to take advantage of the Duke and Wallis Simpson's vulnerabilities and fears.

Much of the narrative is in the form of memos between key political figures in the USA, Britain, Germany and other European countries and their respective espionage and intelligence agencies, which provide valuable insights in providing context, strategic plans, and detailing how the war is panning out. Bill finds himself surprisingly working with his supposed 'wife', the American Daisy and trying to protect a young traumatised Jewish girl, Mignon. Will he succeed in his deadly and dangerous assignment? There are numerous obstacles and challenges for Bill to overcome, including islanders who do not take kindly to 'collaborators', and who exactly is Daisy? This is a thrillingly engaging and riveting historical read that is well researched, beautifully plotted, and with real life characters from this period of history. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
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One of the best historical spy thrillers I've read in a long time. Well plotted, mixing in real life figures, the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson being the main ones, with Bill and Daisy, two vividly drawn out fictional characters. Also like the snippets of communications from the likes of Churchill and the German hierarchy. These provide a little breather between the relentless plot pace and action.
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For sheer chutzpah in taking a collection of known facts about the early years of the Second World War and weaving them into a just about credible narrative, conscripting a small constellation of historical figures in the process, this author deserves generous praise. There is action aplenty, with well drawn characters from the various states who were fighting or getting ready to fight, alongside a plot that had a plentiful supply of unexpected twists and turns. Action takes place mainly on Alderney, one of the smaller Channel Islands, and follows the Duke of Windsor’s sojourn in mainland Europe before his appointment as Governor of the Bahamas. The Duke is a key player in the story, although he is largely unaware of the role he plays.

The author warns us that, whilst historical truths may not have been turned upside down, some facts may have been given a hard time. The Duke of Windsor’s admiration for aspects of Hitler’s Germany is a historical fact, and the author uses this foundation to weave a credible and fascinating story that plays alongside the more conventional spy thriller set in Alderney. 

An excellent read - highly recommended.
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This is such a well-researched spy story that you won’t be able to tell where real events end and the author’s keen imagination takes over. It’s set in WW2 in the ‘phoney war’ phase of 1940. Operation Sealion is on the cards but hasn’t been launched. The Battle of Britain has yet to fill the skies. America’s interests are hard to fathom. And there are many who believe that a political solution can resolve the differences between Germany and the UK… especially if influential figures such as Edward, Duke of Windsor, can be convinced to help end hostilities.
If all that sounds like too much epic history on an earth-shattering scale, fear not. Author Jack Grimwood adroitly focuses his narrative on a tight cluster of engaging characters: the ne’erdowell thief, given the choice between the hangman’s noose or a near-impossible task for SOE. The classic ice-woman assassin, so hardened by repeated trauma that she’s all sharp edges and vengeance. The teenage survivor whose determination and vulnerability brings them together.
These three collide in a near-perfect espionage plot, set on the occupied Channel Islands. Good Germans, bad Nazis, local collaborators and resistance fighters abound – and somehow our thief must navigate this mix, steal the Nazi plans for the German invasion of the British mainland, and make his perilous rendezvous with a submarine without being discovered, shot, maimed or murdered by all or any of the above. A tense page-turner? You bet.
However, you will need to take your time over the opening chapters which establish the historical situation and the extensive supporting cast. There are two or three (or four…) parallel storylines running, and it takes a little while to get them straight in your head. The author uses a variety of devices to bring us up to speed, and the chopping betwixt eyes-only memos, secret assignations and newsreel footage on both sides of the Channel (and the Atlantic) can be a tiny bit bewildering. 
Stick with it: the payoff is well worth your effort. This is a story that’s stuffed full of authentic historical characters – and not just Nazis. There’s even a reference to TE Lawrence and his penchant for highly-strung mechanical contraptions. And Grimwood is something of an assassin himself; painting the abdicated Edward as an impossible nincompoop but yet with a few saving graces.
The author earns another round of applause for actually finishing with a real cliff-hanger, although I preferred the car chase par excellence, in which classic British sports cars screech around precarious hairpin bends in exotic Continental locales. That sequence forms part of an extended tip of the hat to Ian Fleming’s spy stories – and the man himself even gets a significant supporting role… and rather wonderfully shares his recipe for a perfect breakfast!
I haven’t enjoyed a British spy story this much since I was 13 and first discovered Casino Royale.
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An exhilarating blend of fact and fiction and a novel of breathless excitement. This was a fast paced historical thriller which left the reader guessing throughout but its all action style and the incorporation of real characters ensured that the journey was worthwhile.

Highly recommended.
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A fast paced, labyrinthine WWII thriller set after the Fall of France and Britain prepares itself for the expected German invasion.
After a job goes wrong, former soldier turned safe-cracker, Bill O' Hagan is saved from the gallows in order to carry out work for British Intelligence. He is to be taken by submarine to the Channel island of Alderney which has just been taken over by the Wehrmacht. His job is to open a safe and steal the contents. He undergoes a crash course in how to be a secret agent, before being taken to Alderney where he must impersonate a local aristocrat and known Nazi sympathizer. The island is seen as Hitler's "stepping stone" to Operation Sea Lion - the invasion of mainland Britain.
Meanwhile, Britain's former King, now the Duke of Windsor, flees France to Spain and then Portugal with Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom he abdicated the throne. They stay at the home of a Portuguese banker who has both British and German contacts.
There he and Wallis Simpson are courted by various British and German diplomats. The former want him to return to Britain while the latter want to put Edward VIII back on the throne, after he helps Germany reach an armistice with Britain and avoid a prolonged war which, in July 1940, it seems likely Germany would win. 
Unhappy with the way in which the British Government has treated him and his wife and having previously expressed admiration for Hitler, it seems likely he will side with Germany and all sorts of inducements - mostly large sums of Swiss francs - are employed to have him join one side or the other.
Back on Alderney, Bill discovers he's not the only secret agent on the island. This one is a woman who has fled France taking with her a young Jewish girl. But more shocks are in store. What exactly are the contents of the safe that Bill is supposed to open? What is the female secret agent's plan?
As the former King dithers over whether to side with Germany or return to Britain, the two men's paths are destined to cross. Meanwhile, diplomats and intelligence services from the USA, Britain and Germany plot more intrigue and deception.
As the story unfolds, the author uses scores of actual secret memos, documents and letters to show what was happening in Britain, Germany and the USA as Britain braced itself for the likely invasion. 
This is a fascinating meld of historical fact and fiction which reveals many shocks and surprises along the way. Highly recommended.

My thanks to the publisher, Penguin Michael Joseph UK and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.
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